Canine Leukemia Prognosis, Treatment & Survival Stories
What is the typical prognosis for dogs suffering from Leukemia?
Leukemia in dogs is a blood cancer that creates an overabundance of white blood cells. The most common Leukemia is Lymphocytic and it is generally chronic and dogs are expected to do well on treatment and be able to survive for up to two years. The Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia has a lower survival rate because of the nature of the disease onset. Often it is found too late and families are told to make their fur friends comfortable and enjoy the time remaining. The Leukemia in dogs prognosis can vary depending on the type the dog is diagnosed with. We wanted to share two survivor stories with you that can bring hope and insight into the journey of a dog with this cancer.
Otchum’s Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment
On January 26, 2022, Otchum turned fourteen years old. His family has a special reason to celebrate this birthday because his malignant lymphocyte count dropped since his last veterinarian visit.
In August of last year, shortly after taking him to the vet for an injection treatment for joint degeneration from aging (arthrosis) in his hips, his owner noticed unusual weight loss. Though more active after the injection, Otchum had been lethargic. These symptoms worried his dog mom enough to prompt another visit to the vet.
In September, when his vet ordered a blood test, the oncologist observed an elevated amount of lymphoblasts and diagnosed him with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, T-cell version. This canine leukemia prognosis is better as it has a slower, less aggressive pace than other forms of the disease, with a 24-42% occurrence of this type of leukemia in dogs.
Because the vet caught the leukemia early, as shown in the blood count, Otchum avoided chemotherapy. His dog mom has to observe him for symptoms and have his blood tested every three months to ensure continued health. She has given him CBD oil as a home remedy to combat the cancer. Each blood analysis has yielded good news, as the lymphoblast count continues to decrease.
Otchum’s dog mom is optimistic, reporting, “so far so good. He is still his naughty old self. He also gained back the weight that he had lost. Next checkup will be at the end of March.” Her love for her furbaby manifests in a hopefulness that has carried the family through the aftermath of a bleak diagnosis. Soon, Otchum may overcome leukemia in dogs. This type of leukemia in dogs life expectancy is close to two years! We hope this for Otchum.
Belle’s Leukemia Survival Story
Belle’s owner first noticed the dog’s frequent diarrhea. Soon, the symptoms included lethargy, especially weak hind legs. Belle had to go outside in the middle of the night for weeks, yet didn’t want to go on walks in the day, which she previously loved. The owner explains, “we took her to the vet because we were not getting enough sleep! We assumed it was a stomach bug she had caught from drinking dirty water. The vet also assumed this and put her on antibiotics before doing any other tests.”
However, once on antibiotics, Belle experienced severe pain after eating, which only got worse when she stopped taking antibiotics. She became emaciated, so the vet ordered a blood test.
In July 2021, at the age of eight, Belle was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). This more-common type of leukemia, found in 35-39% of dogs with leukemia, is also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A kind of white blood cells (lymphocytes), rapidly spread the cancer from the bone marrow to the blood, then other organs, like the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and brain. At the time of diagnosis, the vet recommended making Belle as comfortable as possible for her final weeks alive. In acute cases the canine leukemia prognosis is not as favorable as in chronic cases.
Instead, the dog owner’s immediate treatment using natural and physical (naturopathic) remedies saved Belle. This Sprollie’s keto diet of organic, raw food included nutritional supplements, medicinal mushrooms, prebiotics, and probiotics. Additionally, Belle took a prescribed steroids injection of 5 mg to reduce the pain and diarrhea, as well as improve appetite. Unfortunately, the injections caused side-effects, such as increased agitation/anxiety, panting, and constant hunger.
Additionally, her owner worked to remove inflammatory foods, toxins, and stress from Belle’s daily life to discover the dog’s natural intolerance that caused the flare-up. This fur-parent’s goal was to “support her body in its mission to heal itself.”
Within a week, Belle chose to go on walks again after two months of declining walk time. Within a few months on the new diet, supplements, and an increased steroids dose of 7.5 mg, she regained all the weight she had lost and experienced better energy and general mood. She even started playing with other dogs a little bit and chasing squirrels like she did before her diagnosis.
In January 2022, almost five months to Belle’s diagnosis day, her blood test showed she was in remission from leukemia in dogs. Her owner confirmed, “she has been doing really well for a while now. Her weight is up, the strength in her back legs has returned, she is happy and active, and being a normal dog.” A proactive approach to Belle’s treatment, based on natural wellness, has saved this furbaby’s life.
How Pet Owners Can Impact Dog Leukemia Survival Rate
Both Otchum and Belle’s dog-parents showcased that parental gut feeling that their furbabies needed support to heal from leukemia in dogs. These dog owners sprung into action early, promoting health in their pets. Pet parents who take action quickly can give us hope that the leukemia in dogs survival rate can go up.
In fact, we at the National Canine Cancer Foundation encourage you to follow our Check Your Dog Monthly program. When you see warning signs, keep talking to your vet about why you think your pet is experiencing these symptoms. Always trust your knowledge and compassion for your dog, especially in the area of preventative cancer care.
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